Walk the South Downs Way

The South Downs Way stretches for 100 miles from Winchester in Hampshire to the white cliffs of Eastbourne. Experience dramatic scenery and visit picturesque villages as you traverse the South Downs hills. Only an hour from London, this National Trail offers the perfect holiday escape.

This long distance path has a huge variety of scenery, from spectacular panoramic ridge top views to shady woodland walks, meandering rivers and picture postcard villages, complete with thatched cottages and traditional pubs. History is a constant companion in the South Downs with iron age forts, Roman villas, majestic castles and stately homes.

Walk the South Downs Way in a single trip or divide the trail into several sections. On all our holidays breakfast is included each morning and you have the option to add lunch and dinner too. Luggage transfers and local transport are provided so all you have to do is relax and enjoy your walk each day through the wonderful South Downs countryside.

Birling Gap, Seven Sisters Country Park, Sussex, England

Winchester to Eastbourne

Walk from the ancient capital of Wessex to the white cliffs of Beachy Head staying in country hotels and inns along the trail.

We have carefully designed several itineraries so that you can choose the one that is suitable for the distances you can walk each day and places and attractions that you would like to visit along the way.

Paragliders at Devils Dyke, Sussex, England

Buriton to Eastbourne

Before the South Downs Way was extended to Winchester, the western terminus was at Buriton. Walk the 76 mile route from the Hampshire/Sussex border to Eastbourne. Transfers from Petersfield train station to Buriton are provided.

On all our holidays you have the option to stay overnight in Brighton. Transfers between Ditchling Beacon and your seafront hotel are provided.

Arundel Castle and the River Arun, Sussex, England

Winchester to Amberley

On the first section from Winchester to the Arun Valley at Amberley, the South Downs hills are mostly wooded and steep sided.

Along the way you will pass through the Meon Valley, over Old Winchester Hill and Butser Hill (the highest point on the South Downs Way) and past Buriton, Harting Down, Graffham Down and Bignor with its famous Roman Villa.

Devils Dyke at sunset, Sussex, England

Amberley to Eastbourne

After crossing the River Arun and climbing out of Amberley the landscape changes. There are far fewer trees, which provides terrific views to the coast and the Surrey hills to the north.

On your journey to the sea you will pass the iconic Devils Dyke, Ditchling Beacon, Lewes, Alfriston and the beautiful Cuckmere Valley before ending at the white cliffs of Beachy Head.

Most people walk from west to east as the wind is usually behind you and the walk across the cliff tops at Seven Sisters is a lovely way to finish your holiday. However you can start in Eastbourne and walk west to Winchester of course.

Winchester to the Meon Valley

The South Downs Way starts in the historic cathedral city of Winchester. You quickly leave the city behind and after 20 minutes pass through the pretty hamlet of Chilcomb before climbing up onto Cheesefoot Head with its fine views to the coast. Stop for refreshments at the Milburys pub in Beauworth before you reach Beacon Hill high above the Meon Valley. Stay overnight in Meonstoke village or transfer to the market town of Bishops Waltham.

Meon Valley to Buriton

From Exton beside the River Meon you climb steadily up onto Old Winchester Hill iron age fort and nature reserve. On a clear day you have views to the Isle of Wight. Stop for a coffee at the interesting Sustainability Centre above East Meon before reaching Butser Hill, the highest point on the South Downs Way. From here the trail passes through the woodland of Queen Elizabeth Country Park to reach the pretty village of Buriton. You will be met and transferred to your inn at nearby Petersfield or South Harting.

Buriton to Cocking

Before leaving Buriton take a moment to explore the chalk pits of Buriton Hanger. From here the trail to Harting Downs follows a wide gravel track with good views between the trees to the north. Above South Harting you can take a short diversion to visit Uppark. After Harting Downs the South Downs Way enters woodland again and there is a remote feel to the trail, out of season you will have this section to yourself most days. Stay overnight in Cocking village or transfer to Midhurst or Chichester.

Cocking to Amberley

The climb out of Cocking after a large breakfast can be hard work. At the top you enter woodland again as you pass through Charlton Forest and Graffham Down. The trees thin out as you approach Bignor Hill. From here the views south to the coast are fabulous making this spot an idea place for a break. The long descent into the Arun Valley is magnifient with far reaching views to the east and south. Enjoy the evening in Amberley or transfer to Arundel to visit the impressive castle and cathedral.

Amberley to Bramber

As you climb out of the Arun Valley you leave behind the woodland of West Sussex. From here to Eastbourne the hills are more open and windswept and the views north and south unrestricted. Enjoy a pub lunch at Washington before climbing to the raised tree circle of Chanctonbury Ring. From here you pass Steyning Bowl before dropping into the Adur Valley. For accommodation there are small hotels in Bramber and Steyning.

Bramber to Lewes

The views throughout this day are terrific. The morning starts with a long gradual climb out of the Adur Valley to the top of Truleigh Hill before decending and climbing agin to the pub at Devils Dyke. This is a popular spot for paragliders. To the south Brighton and Hove seafronts can be seen. Further on you will pass the Jack and Jill windmills at Clayton and Ditchling Beacon before descending to the market town of Lewes with its narrow lanes and alleyways waiting to be explored.

Lewes to Alfriston

After a short transfer from Lewes back to the South Downs Way near Kingston you climb quickly back onto the ridge. The path sweeps gently down to Rodmell and Southease where you cross the River Ouse. Stop for refreshments at the YHA cafe before climbing again to Firle Beacon. This is another beautiful spot to sit and enjoy the views before you descend slowly into the beautiful village of Alfriston with its thatched cottages, shops, tearooms and pubs.

Alfriston to Eastbourne

The walk alongside the meandering Cuckmere River to the coast at Cuckmere Haven and then across the grassy tops of the rolling white chalk cliffs to Eastbourne is considered by many to be the highlight of their South Downs Way trip. There are cafes at Seven Sisters Country Park and Birling Gap and on Beachy Head you will find a pub with wonderful views down the coast. Your walk ends with a gentle descent to Eastbourne Promenade and your sea front hotel for the night.

We understand that the quality of accommodation is critical to the enjoyment of your walking holiday. On the South Downs Way we use hotels and country inns, which we personally visit. When there is no suitable accommodation available close to the trail, local transfers are provided. To reduce costs other holiday operators use B&Bs (rooms in private houses), which are cheaper, so be careful when comparing packages.

Giffard House, Winchester

Giffard House is a beautifully refurbished 19th century Victorian building. A 5 minute walk from the City Centre, the hotel is ideally located for Winchester's restaurants and attractions. Giffard House is rated 5* by Visit England and the AA.

White Hart, South Harting

The White Hart is a beautifully restored village inn. Positioned at the foot of Harting Down on the Hampshire/Sussex border the pub serves fabulous locally sourced food and fine real ales. The spacious guest rooms have character and charm.

Bluebell Inn, Cocking

The Bluebell Inn is a traditional West Sussex village pub offering quality food and accommodation. There is a welcoming bar and a restaurant that has a varied menu with options for vegetarians and those on special diets. Upstairs there are three double rooms and a kingsize room and a twin bed room.

Sportsman, Amberley

The Sportsman Inn is positioned on the edge of the picture postcard village of Amberley in the shadow of the South Downs and high above the flood plains and nature reserve of the River Arun. There is a regularly changing menu of home cooked British cuisine and five well appointed rooms.

Findon Manor, Findon

Deep in the Sussex countryside and on the slopes of the South Downs Way Findon Manor is set in its own gardens and offers a relaxing country retreat. The Terrace Restaurant serves a variety of dishes using the best of locally sourced ingredients and the Snooty Fox pub serves fine ales, wines and traditional bar food.

Pelham House, Lewes

Pelham House Hotel is a beautiful 16th century town house hotel in the centre of Lewes. It has been exquisitely restored to create a stylish venue, which combines elegance and history. The architecture of the building is complemented by beautiful hotel gardens, which have an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity.

The Star, Alfriston

The Star is in the heart of the picturesque village of Alfriston. The front of the building dates back to the 13th century making The Star one of the country's oldest inns. The modern rooms at the rear of the building offer spacious and comfortable accommodation. There is a restuarant serving fresh, locally sourced modern English meals.

View Hotel, Eastbourne

The View Hotel is a modern and stylish hotel on Eastbourne's seafront. The bar has a beautiful terrace area where and you can sit and watch the world. The restaurant serves a mix of modern and traditional dishes. Rooms have all the amenities of a quality hotel, many of which have a sea view.

We are often asked the following questions and hope that you will find the answers useful. Please don't hesitate to contact us for more advice or specific questions about the walk.

Most people walk from west to east as the prevailing wind is usually - but not always - from behind and the walk across the cliff tops at Seven Sisters is a lovely way to finish your holiday. However you can of course start in Eastbourne and finish in Winchester.

The south east of England has warmer temperatures throughout the year compared to all other areas of the UK. Perhaps the best time to visit is in spring and autumn. In April and May the meadows are awash with colour and in October and November the trees are very beautiful. There will be less competition for accommodation at these times too.

Spring, the months of March through to May, is generally a calm, cool and dry season. However, as the sun rises higher in the sky and the days grow longer, temperatures can rise relatively high but then tend to drop off again at night.

Summer, from June to August, is the warmest season and when there is least rainfall. Autumn lasts from September through to November. The season is notorious for being unsettled.

During the winter months of December, January and February the weather is generally cool, wet and windy. On a crisp clear winter morning the views can be terrific. However the days are much shorter.

The South Downs Way is very well signposted and the landscape is full of features so you are unlikely to use your compass.

The Harvey Map of the South Downs Way covers the whole trail on one convenient sheet. It's at a scale of 1:40000. It shows the trail very clearly but it does not cover a large area either side of the path. This means that you can miss many of the villages, places of interest and pubs that are just off the trail. It is also not much use should you become lost.

Ordnance Survey maps are very good but unfortunately you have to purchase lots of them to cover the whole South Downs Way. Landranger Maps are to a scale of 1:50000:

  • Landranger 185 Winchester and Basingstoke
  • Landranger 197 Chichester & the South Downs
  • Landranger 198 Brighton & Lewes
  • Landranger 199 Eastbourne & Hastings

There are several taps along the South Downs Way to refill water bottles. These are shown on the Harvey Map.

It's worth taking purification tablets with you as the taps are usually on farms.

In the summer months the days can be hot so take plenty of water. However, as this is England rain can be expected throughout the year so always carry a waterproof jacket.

The chalk ridge doesn't hold the water so heavy boots are not necessary except following prolonged wet weather. During winter exposed parts of the trail can be cold and windswept so dress appropriately.

  • Boots - above ankle walking boots with a ribbed sole
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Windproof trousers and jumper
  • Short trousers are useful in the summer
  • Hat: a sun hat in summer, a warm one at other times
  • Gloves - although not really needed for walkers in the summer
  • Water bottle or bladder, worth carrying 2 litres of water
  • Day pack for your guidebook and map, sandwiches, drinks, camera, etc
  • Large pack if you are not using our bag transfer service. If you decide to lighten the load during your trip give us a call.
  • Walking poles: feel no shame, they're great!
  • Foam mat to sit on although a plastic bag is just as good and much cheaper
  • Simple first aid kit and insect repellant
  • Water purification tablets
  • Comfortable shoes in case your boots begin to rub
  • Evening clothes for the restaurant, wash kit, night dress, slippers, etc

The level of fitness required depends on the distance you intend to travel each day and the weight of the rucksack you carry. Most active people can walk the South Downs Way in 8 or 9 days.

Although the path follows the South Downs chalk ridge you will still climb over 13,000 feet (4000 metres) between Winchester and Eastbourne. Add the extra ascents each morning to return to the ridge from your hotel or inn and you can see that a reasonable standard of fitness is required.

Avoid congestion by starting mid week, as most people begin at weekends and this creates accommodation bottlenecks along the trail.

Many people assume they will cover the same distance each day. You may find that the first and last days are when you feel the strongest and the middle of your trip is when you could benefit from resting a little.

Consider the off-trail distances. This is the distance you must travel away from the path each day to reach your hotel or inn. Remember you will need to cover the same distance the next morning to return to the path.

Our holidays include detailed itineraries that show both the on-trail and off-trail distances for each day. We also provide transfers to your accommodation where they are required.

Please contact us to discuss your holiday. We will provide any local information and advice you need and help design a trip that is best for you. We will then email you an itinerary and holiday quote for you to consider. When you are ready to book, we ask for a deposit payment of £100 per person.

We will organise your holiday by:

  • Reserving accommodation for each night
  • Organising transport for you where it is needed
  • Arranging your daily luggage transfers
  • Designing your day to day holiday schedule including suggestions for lunch and dinner and local attractions to visit
  • Preparing your holiday pack

The full holiday schedule and statement will then be emailed to you as a PDF document for you to review.

Four weeks before your holiday starts we ask for the balance to be paid. We then pay the accommodation providers in advance of your visit.

During your holiday please contact us on our 24 hour support number if you need help or advice. We are based locally so are close by should you need assistance.

At the end of your trip we will contact you to ask for your feedback on the holiday.

For groups of four or more we organise South Downs Way walking holidays during the autumn and winter months, from October through to March. Luggage transfers, transport and trail support are expensive to provide at this time so we do ask for a minimum group size of four people.

Accommodation prices fluctuate during the year. Rooms reserved in March are much cheaper than the same rooms booked in July. As accommodation can account for as much 70% of the price of a holiday we find it very difficult to quote one price. So instead each trip is priced individually based on the costs of the accommodation for the holiday dates you would like.

Whether you are a local club arranging an annual event, a group of friends looking for a short break or holiday adventure or a family meeting up we can help with the organisation of your event.

We offer large discounts for group bookings, please contact us for prices.

Combining walking and cycling is becoming very popular. You can for example, cycle from Winchester to Lewes and then walk from Lewes to Eastbourne. Bicycles will be delivered to you in Winchester and collected in Lewes.

At Alfriston the South Downs Way splits: walkers head to the coast while cyclists enter Eastbourne via Jevington to the north. For this reason many prefer to walk the final section so that they don't miss the white cliffs at Seven Sisters Country Park.

Heathrow airport to the west of London and Gatwick airport to the south of the city are the main points of entry for visitors from overseas. There are regular train services from the centre of London to Winchester, Petersfield (Buriton), Amberley, Lewes and Eastbourne. Bus travel throughout the South Downs National Park is quite limited so many find the minibus transport we provide helpful.


Winchester is at the southern end of the A34 and beside the M3 motorway which joins London to the South Coast. There are long term car parks in the city centre. For groups we offer a collection service from your home.

There are regular train services from Winchester into London Waterloo via Woking and south to Southampton. National Express operate bus services between London Victoria and Winchester. The bus station is just 100 metres from the start of the South Downs Way.

Southampton is the closest airport to Winchester. There are hourly bus services from Heathrow to Winchester. Many customers, particularly those arriving at Gatwick, find our airport collection service very convenient.


Buriton is a small village nestled at the foot of the South Downs ridge. The A3 dual carriageway that runs from South West London to Portsmouth passes nearby. A couple of miles to the north is the A272 is that joins Winchester with Midhurst and Petworth.

A short transfer or 3 mile walk from Buriton is the market town of Petersfield with its mainline train station. There are regular train services north to Haslemere, Guildford, Woking and London Waterloo and south to Havant and Portsmouth.

Gatwick and Heathrow airports are just over an hour from Buriton by road. There are train services from Gatwick airport to Petersfield via Guildford. For Heathrow airport take a train to Woking and then the connecting bus service.


To the east of Amberley is the A24 that runs from South London to Worthing. To the south at Arundel you can join the A27, which joins Portsmouth with Brighton and Eastbourne.

Amberley train station is half a mile from the village and is actually at Houghton Bridge. From here there are train services to Arundel where you can connect with rail services along the south coast and north to London Victoria.

Gatwick is the closest airport to Amberley. There are train services from the airport to Amberley and Arundel. If you are arriving at Heathrow the easiest way to reach Amberley is using our minibus transfer service.


There are good road connections into Lewes. From London take the A23 to Brighton and then the A27 east. The A27 continues to Eastbourne but it becomes a single carriageway at Lewes.

Lewes train station is in the centre of town. There are regular train services to Brighton. From there you can connect with trains to London Bridge and along the coast to Chichester and Portsmouth. There are also services to Eastbourne.

Gatwick airport has good train and road connections to Lewes. For Heathrow airport you will need to take a train into central London. Local taxi companies provide transfers or groups can book a minibus transfer with us.


Eastbourne is connected to London via the A22 that passes through East Grinstead and Uckfield on its way to the coast. Hastings can be reached via the A259 coast road and Lewes using the busy A27.

There are regular train services to London via Lewes and Brighton. There are also train connections east to Hastings, Rye and Ashford in Kent. At Ashford you can take Eurostar train services to the continent.

Perhaps the easiest way to reach Gatwick airport is using the train. Local taxi services can provide efficient transfers to Heathrow and Gatwick airports. We can also provide a transfer service for groups.

As accommodation can account for as much 70% of the price of a holiday, you can save money by travelling to Winchester at the start of the first day and departing from Eastbourne at the end of the final day. You will be met on the first and last days to collect and return your luggage.

Price Promise

We are confident that our prices are the best around. If you find the same holiday being offered at a lower price, we will beat the lower price or you can cancel free of charge.

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7 Days6-8 nights, 7 days walking


  • 1. Winchester to Exton, 12 miles
  • 2. Exton to Buriton, 12 miles
  • 3. Buriton to Graffham, 14 miles
  • 4. Graffham to Steyning, 20 miles
  • 5. Steyning to Lewes, 18 miles
  • 6. Lewes to Alfriston, 14 miles
  • 7. Alfriston to Eastbourne, 12 miles

8 Days7-9 nights, 8 days walking


  • 1. Winchester to Exton, 12 miles
  • 2. Exton to Buriton, 12 miles
  • 3. Buriton to Cocking, 11 miles
  • 4. Cocking to Amberley, 13 miles
  • 5. Amberley to Bramber, 13 miles
  • 6. Bramber to Lewes, 16.5 miles
  • 7. Lewes to Alfriston, 14 miles
  • 8. Alfriston to Eastbourne, 12 miles

9 Days8-10 nights, 9 days walking


  • 1. Winchester to Exton, 12 miles
  • 2. Exton to Buriton, 12 miles
  • 3. Buriton to Cocking, 11 miles
  • 4. Cocking to Amberley, 13 miles
  • 5. Amberley to Bramber, 13 miles
  • 6. Bramber to Ditchling, 12 miles
  • 7. Ditchling to Kingston, 11 miles
  • 8. Kingston to Alfriston, 12 miles
  • 9. Alfriston to Eastbourne, 12 miles

6 Day Challenge5-7 nights, 6 days walking


  • 1. Winchester to East Meon, 18 miles
  • 2. East Meon to Cocking, 19 miles
  • 3. Cocking to Storrington, 17 miles
  • 4. Storrington to Ditchling, 20 miles
  • 5. Ditchling to Alfriston, 20 miles
  • 6. Alfriston to Eastbourne, 12 miles

Winchester to Amberley3-5 nights, 4 days walking


  • 1. Winchester to Exton, 12 miles
  • 2. Exton to Buriton, 12 miles
  • 3. Buriton to Cocking, 11 miles
  • 4. Cocking to Amberley, 13 miles

Amberley to Eastbourne4-6 nights, 5 days walking


  • 1. Amberley to Bramber, 13 miles
  • 2. Bramber to Ditchling, 12 miles
  • 3. Ditchling to Kingston, 11 miles
  • 4. Kingston to Alfriston, 12 miles
  • 5. Alfriston to Eastbourne, 12 miles

Prices shown above include all taxes but exclude accommodation at the start and end of the holiday.

Tell us about the trip you are planning and the services that you would like us to provide. We will then confirm availability and provide prices.

The Trail

  • Distance: 99 miles / 160 kms
  • Ascent: 13200 feet / 4000 metres
  • Grade: 3
  • Duration: 6-9 days
  • Start point: Winchester
  • End point: Eastbourne


St. Cross Hospital, Winchester, England

The medieval city of Winchester with its magnificent buildings

Old Winchester Hill, Hampshire South Downs, England

The green rolling hills and nature reserves of the Hampshire Downs

Arundel Castle and the River Arun, Sussex, England

Arundel's imposing castle, cathedral and pretty town centre

Devil's Dyke, Sussex, England

Devil's Dyke offers stunning panoramas across the Weald and south to the sea.

Alfriston, East Sussex, England

The pretty village of Alfriston in the Cuckmere Valley.

Seven Sisters Country Park, Sussex, England

The white chalk cliffs at Seven Sisters Country Park before you enter Eastbourne

Your Holiday

Tell us the services you would like us to provide and we will design your perfect itinerary. Holidays include:

  • Hotels & inns, en-suite bathrooms
  • Breakfasts - cooked and continental
  • Luggage transfers and storage
  • 24 hour support line
  • Transfers from the trail to your hotel
  • Transport if you need to skip a day
  • Collection from the airport or home
  • Car parking
  • Transfers back to your car or home
  • Trail maps and guide book
  • Cycle part or all of the trail
  • Nights in Brighton & Arundel

We keep the off-trail walking to a minimum by providing transfers between the South Downs Way and your hotels and inns where they are required.

If you would like to skip a day of walking, transport is provided for free when luggage transfers are booked, otherwise we will arrange the transport and you pay the driver directly.

We offer the option on some nights to stay in nearby historic towns. For example, at Amberley you can stay the night in Arundel and at Ditchling you can spend the evening in Brighton.